The first big nominee list in Science Fiction & Fantasy for 2015 awards is out! The Nebula Awards will be presented in May, so until then here’s the reading list in the best novel category:
Raising Caine, by Charles E. Gannon
Series: Tales of the The Terran Republic, #3
The third in Gannon’s space-opera series has “reluctant diplomat and military intelligence operative” Caine Riordan journeying to a new world to try and forge an alliance with its mysterious inhabitants. For hard science-fiction and adventure fans, Fantasy and Science Fiction book and audiobook reviews calls this series “an intergallactic thrill-ride.”
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin
Series: The Broken Earth, #1
I’ve raved about this book before, and after finishing her Inheritance Trilogy (that was the 2 1/4″ book from my winter picks post) I can definitely say that N.K. Jemisin is my favourite new find in a long time. This series features a world so ravaged by environment disasters that it marks its historical eras by whatever catastrophe defined them. It’s three main storylines, each told in an entirely different narrative style, make for a challenging, unique read. It takes a bit to get going, and the narrative can be confusing at first, but it is so SO worth the read!
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch, #3
The conclusion to the Imperial Radch trilogy has its self-aware-starship-turned-soldier Breq facing a final confrontation with her enemy, the ruler of the now divided Radch empire. Ancillary Justice, the first book in this series (which was also Ann Leckie’s debut) won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Arthur C. Clarke Awards, so this is definitely a must-read.
The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu
Series: The Dandelion Dynasty, #1
Liu is an award-winning short-story writer. His new series is set in an Han dynasty-like setting, and is inspired by Chinese and Western mythology and storytelling. It’s a novel of kingdoms and thrones, gods, friendship, and betrayal. In terms of scale, world-building detail (and sheer number of characters) it’s being compared to Game of Thrones, and in terms of writing style and scope, that of Guy Gavriel Kay.
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
My other favourite from 2015, this is a departure for Naomi Novik from her bestselling Temeraire series. In essence, it’s a coming-of-age story, but I loved the way that Agnieszka fights to be true to her talents, and fights for her friends and village despite the regular disapproval of her captor-turned-tutor, his colleagues, and even the nobility. This is a beautifully crafted fairy-tale like story – dark, magical, and utterly spell-binding.
Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard, by Lawrence M. Schoen
I’m not usually a fan of the talking, anthropomorphic animal characters – Jim Butcher’s cats from the Cinder Spires book and Kevin Hearne’s Irish Wolfhound from the Iron Druid chronicles excepted… and neither of them are actually talking… but I digress. Anyway, despite my anthropomorphic hesitations, Barsk just sounds too intriguing to pass up; it’s set in the far future where, while humanity has died out, it’s successors – animals that have been genetically modified to into sentience and genius – remain, and have scattered all over the galaxy. This novel features the Fant (elephant-descendants, of course), who were exiled to a back-water world, but produce a drug which the other species all now depend on, that allows one to interact with the recently dead. The premise sounds a bit Dune-ish to me, and add to that Space Elephants and it’s now top of my list of nominees I missed last year but have to read now!
Updraft, by Fran Wilde
Series: Bone Universe, #1
This one’s nominated both in the Best Novel and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy categories. Also Fran Wilde’s debut novel, it’s a coming of age story featuring a teen girl about to take her final test to become flier and follow in her mother’s footsteps. It’s been praised for fantastic world-building (because how can you say no to meticulously crafted cloud cities?), great characters, and of course being just plain fun to read.
Check out the full list of nominees at www.sfwa.org. I’m excited that both my two favourite reads from 2015 (Uprooted and The Fifth Season) are nominated, although I would never be able to pick between them.
What do you think? Is the nominee list a good representation of 2015’s offerings, or are there any big oversights?